Woods has created new sense of pride for minority players Many instructors already using him as role model

April 14, 1997|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was incorrectly reported in yesterday's editions that Woods is the first minority to win a major championship. Lee Trevino and Nancy Lopez, both of Hispanic descent, have won majors.

Even before slipping on the green jacket, Tiger Woods has made an impact on golf.

African-American and Asian-American golfers talked yesterday of the sense of pride and increased interest Woods has generated. Woods, 21, the son of an African-American father and a mother born in Thailand, won the Masters to became the first minority to capture one of golf's four major championships.

Aaron Smith, 54, of Columbia said Woods has changed the game of golf for him.

He began playing 1 1/2 years ago, but never watched the sport on television. Since Woods turned professional, Smith has called his cable company to ask for the Golf Channel and has a picture of Woods on his office wall.


"I didn't watch because I can't relate to Ben Crenshaw or Jack Nicklaus," Smith said. "Tiger is someone I can identify with. I think whether he wants to or not, we're going to claim him."

Many people have used Woods as a role model. David Marsh, a golf instructor for teen-agers in Harford County, is using him as inspiration.

"I really think it's awesome," Marsh said. "I was just hoping he would make it. But for him to wear a green jacket, I'm proud. It shows black kids that they can play other things than just basketball and football."

Some golfers at Pine Grove Golf Course pointed out that Woods won at Augusta National, which didn't admit an African-American member until six years ago. Others thought it was significant that Woods won two days before the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in baseball.

"Since I'm a minority myself, I'd like the chance to play at any course," said Sung Wang, 25. "I think Tiger being a minority brings more attention to the game. It shows anyone can play the game well."

Howard Ouyang, 21, said Woods has already increased interest in golf with teen-agers. Woods, who has several Web sites and a chat room devoted to him, has attracted younger players with his aggressive style.

Ouyang, a student at Johns Hopkins, has noticed the changes when he goes back to courses in Los Angeles, just northwest of Woods' hometown of Cypress.

"I think you can tell the effect already," Ouyang said. "You see a lot of people catching onto the fever, and it's not only minorities. When I think of Tiger, it's more of his accomplishments than his skin color."

Pub Date: 4/14/97

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